Cinco de Mayo

May 5, 2011

Cinco De Mayo means a couple of things to me. First, it’s my friend Kristy’s birthday (Happy Birthday Kristy!!!).   Second, all Mexican restaurants in America will be packed! As I’m sure most Americans don’t know what the day means, and for the ½ that do they probably don’t care, it’s still a great opportunity to feel festive by enjoying a night of tacos, burritos, chips & salsa, and who could forget the REAL reason… margaritas. But
one thing is NOT true about Cino De Mayo, it doesn’t have to ruin your diet plan. And I recently visited one of my FAVORITE Mexican hot spots to do just that. Confession: although I write to you about Cinco De Mayo,
this experience did not take place on May 5th. But if you can get past that, I think you’ll be able to learn a little about how you can enjoy this “holiday” (and Kristy’s Birthday) and not pop the button on your favorite skinny jeans.

I could eat Mexican food everyday and I don’t think I would ever get tired of it. But there is a new local restaurant that exceeds the typical Mexican cuisine. Fuego has been open for a couple of years on Old Shell Rd at Upham Street. It’s almost always busy and there is a good reason why, the food is extremely fresh and the salsa is some of the best I’ve ever had. But even with top quality ingredients, you still have to think out of the box sometimes in order to stay on track with your diet plan. I would love to encourage you to visit Fuego’s because it is so good, but if you plan to visit another of your favorite Mexican hot-spots tonight, don’t write me off. This post is intended to encourage you to get creative and stay on track.

I recently visited Fuego’s with my friend Alicia for her birthday. Even though it was a Thursday night, they were still crowded. But this wasn’t a problem for us because Fuegos has the BEST margaritas in town. So, we sat at the bar to enjoy a drink as we waited on our table. Here is when I ran into obstacle numero uno, the diet killer and the dreaded but delicious margarita. But that night at Fuego’s the bar tender set me up nicely with a low sugar treat and it was actually good! Simply ask for tequila, club soda, TONS of lime juice, and if you like it pretty sweet, ask for a little Splenda. You’ll barely be able to tell the difference and you have not ruined your diet just yet.

Now on to the main dish! If you like fajitas, then you’re in luck. Just order corn tortillas instead of flour and ditch the rice. What an easy healthy meal. The fewer corn tortillas you can eat, the better. Although corn is a vegetable, it does have a pretty high content of sugar. With fajitas you get grilled meat, peppers and onions, plus a selection of fresh items on the side to add on. Just ditch the rice and stay away from the beans as much as you can and not too much damage has been done. Then there is of course the obvious, taco salad. There aren’t too many ingredients that sneak up on you when you order this. But make sure you order it on a plate or in a bowl, rather than the fried tortilla shell. You aren’t nearly as tempted to eat something bad if it’s not sitting right in front of you. I’ve noticed that a lot of restaurants even offer a fajita taco salad which is even better because it’s topped with the delicious grilled meat, onions and peppers.

Since Fuego’s isn’t your typical Mexican restaurant, they have a great selection of salads. But when I go I am tempted to get my favorite thing on their menu “the Burrito San Diego”. I could have asked for the burrito in a corn tortilla instead of flour and cut out a lot of empty carbs but since we’ve already discussed that corn is high in sugar and it’s been proven to be a little rough on your digestive system, I wanted to cut it out all together. (not to mention that if you eat any chips at all, that’s more corn) So I asked our sweet waitress if she would mind putting the contents of my favorite burrito on a bed of lettuce. She did give me a strange look but she quickly said “Sure!” Since the burrito comes with sour cream and super fresh guacamole that is out of this world, I did not need dressing. Plus I had some amazingly fresh and delicious salsa to pour on it as well. When my food was brought out, the waitress said “that actually looks really good!” I was able to enjoy all of my favorites of Mexican cuisine but did not go home with the bloated “why did I do this to myself” feeling.

So no matter what you love to eat on Cinco de Mayo, get creative and make it as healthy as you can. If you have a favorite dish that is wrapped in something carb-filled or fried, ask for it on a salad. Just because you care about nutrition doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy your favorite foods. Those are 2 things that you don’t have to separate. Think outside of the box a little bit and you can enjoy the affects of a healthy lifestyle as much as you love delicious foods.

Fuego Coastal Mexican Eatery on Urbanspoon


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